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Groundwater

Desert water basin hopes to dive into California water market

 •  by Lois Henry
Mick Gleason, Chair of the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority and Kern County District 1 Supervisor, talks about the need for a $2,000-per-acre-foot pumping fee to buy water for the desert basin. CREDIT: Screen grab of 8-21-20 IWVGA meeting.

If you’ve got water for sale, the Indian Wells Valley Groundwater Authority has $50 million to spend.

Or, it will once it starts collecting a controversial, five-year, $2,000-per-acre-foot pumping fee that was approved by the authority last week.

Specifically, the desert groundwater basin about 100 miles northeast of Bakersfield in the Mojave Desert, is looking to buy rights to 5,000 acre feet a year from an as-yet-to-be-determined Central Valley source.

How it will get the water from the valley over the Sierra Nevadas is another question without any answers so far.

First, it will have to sort out a thorny groundwater rights issue between two of the area’s largest employers before it can figure out who will pay how much of its eye-popping pumping fee.

This is all part of the state’s mandate that overdrafted aquifers bring their basins into balance by 2040 under the Sustainable Groundwater Management Act.

And the Indian Wells Valley basin is way out of whack.

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